PDC 606: Choosing the Correct Radiation Detection Instrument

Stephen Bump, CHP, CIH, PMP Lead Instructor
NV5/Dade Moeller
Richland, WA 
United States of America
Amber Illies Instructor
Cottage Grove, MN 
Sun, 5/31: 1:00 PM  - 5:00 PM 
Professional Development Course 
Georgia World Congress Center - Building B 
Room: B216 
CM Credit Hours: 3.5 


This PDC will review: a) fundamental properties of radiation (alpha, beta, gamma, and x-rays); b) gas filled detectors (ion chambers, proportional, and Geiger-Mueller); c) scintillation detectors (NaI, plastic, and ZnS); d) solid state detectors (Ge and CdTe); e) instrument calibration; f) troubleshooting; and g) how to use instruments for surveys of laboratories, field applications, and emergency response. Demonstrations with a variety of instruments on live exempt quantity radioactive sources will also be performed. Instructors will review factors that affect instrument readings and how to interpret those measurements, how to assure quality control, and how to choose the right instrument for specific needs.

*Please note: Only participants registering for two (2) half-day PDCs on the same day will receive a box lunch.

**Please note: power strips will not be provided at each attendee's seat; however, charging stations for laptops will be provided in each course room.

Course Outline

• Fundamentals Properties of Radiation to Understand how Radiation Detectors Work
• Operating Principles of Gas Filled Detectors
• Demonstration of Scintillation Detectors
• Demonstration of Solid State Detectors
• Radiation Instrument Calibration and Troubleshooting
• How to Use Instruments for Surveys
• Emergency Response for Sealed and Unsealed Sources
• How to Interpret and Defend Radiation Measurements
• Measurement Quality Control
• Ways that Instruments Can be Misleading
• Make Appropriate Decisions Based on Instruments for Routine and Emergency Response 

Learning Outcomes

Upon completion, the participant will be able to:

• Describe how radiation detectors work.
• Decide on the right instrument for particular needs.
• Determine if the instrument is working properly.
• Demonstrate the proper use of each type of radiation instrument.
• Assess the many ways that instruments can be misleading.
• Explain the strengths and limitations of each type of radiation instrument.
• Manage radiation measurements.
• Interpret radiation measurements for routine and emergency response decisions. 


Participants should have a basic understanding of ionizing radiation. 

Value Added

Students will gain practical knowledge based on the demonstration of a variety of portable radiation instruments to see how they respond to real radioactive sources. Extensive references will be provided to show how instruments work, what can go wrong, and how to make defensible decisions based on radiation instruments. 

Course Level


Learning Aids

Scientific Calculator

Learning Level(s)



Radiation (Ionizing and Nonionizing)

Transfer of Knowledge

Group activities
Hands-on demonstrations and practicum
Practice exercises